Hampshire Constabulary have reminded gun owners of their “duty of care” after a recent spike in rural crime saw guns stolen from across the county.

Officers said that they had received three reports of shotguns being stolen from properties in Hampshire in the last 14 days. They said that in two cases, the guns and their ammunition “had not been properly secured.”

Hampshire Constabulary said: “We all have a duty of care to ensure that it is made as difficult as possible for guns to fall into the wrong hands.

“Certificate holders will be aware that they have a lawful duty to maintain security of their guns at all times, and they should know that, in addition to being dealt with for any criminal offences arising from a breach of security, certificates will invariably be revoked.”

The theft of these shotguns follows a number of reports of rural crime across our area. In Stockbridge, police issued a warning last week following a series of break-ins to outbuildings.

Tools and garden equipment were being stolen from the sites, with police saying that items should be marked with distinguishing features, such as a postcode or house number, to assist their recovery.

Quad bikes, power tools and farm machinery are also reportedly being targeted, which Hampshire Constabulary have attributed to organised gangs. They said that anyone spotting suspicious activity should report it immediately.

Officers said: “Please work with us to prevent these thefts and serious harm by reporting anything you think we should know, either through online reporting via our website www.hampshire.police.uk, by calling 101, or ringing Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) anonymously. In an emergency, if something is happening there and then, ALWAYS dial 999.”